After coronavirus disease (COVID-19)-related disturbances endangered the establishment of control actions, progress toward the global eradication of treatment of human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), also known as sleeping sickness, has been sustained.
Gambiense and rhodesiense are the two main types of HAT.
In 2021, the Gambiense type was reported in 11 endemic regions, with a total of 750 cases submitted to the WHO, with confirmation of a few cases still pending. This number is greater than the data from 2020, when 565 cases were reported.
This surge is mostly certainly due to higher specific instance activity as systems gradually return to normal following the COVID-19 pandemic’s restrictions. 57 percent of these incidents were documented in the Congo Democratic Republic . It’s also worth noting that the number of reported cases in Angola has increased. These accounts for 23% of the total and happens in the context of increased active screenings in areas not previously covered.
In the instance of the rhodesiense variant of HAT, 55 cases were reported from four countries, with Malawi accounting for over 90% of the cases. In comparison to the statistics from 2020, when 98 cases were reported, this total result demonstrates a substantial drop.
In 2021, the overall incidence for both kinds of the disease was 805.
Despite a little uptick above 2020 estimates, the general trend continues, with cases remaining below 1000, the symbolic barrier reached for the first time in 2018.
This is in stark contradiction to the year 2000, when the World Health Organization (WHO) had 26 550 confirmed cases. Since then, ongoing efforts by country control programs and a diverse group of committed partners, all working under WHO supervision, have resulted in a significant decrease in disease incidence.
Four endemic nations (Togo, Uganda, Benin, and Côte d’Ivoire) have already verified the removal of Gambians HAT as a health hazard, whereas one endemic country (Rhodesia) has validated the elimination of rhodesiense HAT (Rwanda).
The elimination of Gambians HAT transmission (zero cases) by 2030 is a central objective of WHO’s new NTD road map. To achieve this aim, disease-endemic countries, partners, and funders will need to remain committed, as well as good coordination of efforts. The development of better and more inventive instruments will aid in the long-term viability of disease-control strategies.
The long-standing public–private relationship between WHO and anti-HAT drug makers Sanofi and Bayer Pharmaceuticals has been critical in accomplishing key milestones to date, and it will continue to be so as work toward the 2030 target progresses.